Police and cyclists at loggerheads over Surrey League race cancellation
Race was stopped for safety reasons but organisers say police were heavy handed
Our inbox was full and Twitter went wild on Sunday after the Surrey Leage Road Race was cancelled mid-flow, on the same day that Bradley Wiggins secured his win at the Tour de France.
The race, which takes some of the same roads as will be pedalled by the likes of Cavendish and Wiggins on Saturday at the Olympic Road Race, was halted after some cyclists were overtaking dangerously on the wrong side of the road.
A spokesman for Surrey Police told Roadcc that the race had been called off by the organisers, after the police let them know their concerns about the safety of the race.
Nathan Rees said: "The officers had concerns over the dangerous manner of some of the participants' riding and spoke to the organisers on a number of occasions.
"The officers advised that if there continued to be a risk to the safety of both cyclists and motorists using the road, they would have to recommend the race was stopped.
"The organisers of the race then took the decision to halt it.
Surrey Police recognises that there has been an increase in cycling across the county and we do not wish to discourage cyclists from using its roads. However the safety of all road users must be our priority."
But the Surrey Cycle Racing League reacted angrily, saying that the police had been heavy handed.
Glyn Durrant, the Surrey League Administrator, said: "As with all cycle road races, in the early stages it takes a while for the riders to settle down into a competitive event.
"Whilst the commissaires were happy that the early stages were run off with no compromise to the safety of other road users, Surrey Police asked that the race be stopped on the 2nd lap and riders be warned of their conduct.
"This duly done the race started off again and riders were even more vigilant about their riding conduct.
"The commissaires and other race officials decided to abandon the race after stopping the riders for a second time on lap 4 due to the actions of Surrey Police compromising the safety of the riders as well as other road users deliberately trying to impede the progress of the riders.
"Considering that the police are supposed to take an unbiased view in altercations between people with different views, Surrey Police in this instance have taken sides and have done everything in their power to work against cyclists who are only trying to participate in the sport they enjoy."
Michael Humphreys also contacted Roadcc about the event.
He said: "In the wider context of Britain's spectacular success at the Tour, those who've ever ridden events in any other country just wish the conditions and climate of opinion towards cycle sport on our roads could be improved.
"Police actions in this are key and their support is vital to lead public opinion, since Britain's roads are not exactly the most welcoming environment for training or racing."
Andy Rundle, Neighbourhood Inspector for Mole Valley, said: "We want to encourage cyclists to come and enjoy all the area has to offer but we have to ensure that the safety of everyone on the roads is maintained at all times. Sometimes that will result in our officers needing to make difficult decisions but road safety has to remain our priority.
"We are committed to liasing and working with cycle organisations to ensure that any events held in the local area do not put other road users or the cyclists themselves in any danger."
Were you at the Surrey League Road Race on Sunday? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.